OCTOBER IN THE GARDEN
Spring seems to gather momentum in October. In the colder climates, this is the real beginning of spring, when everything awakens from the cold winter chill. Blossoms abound and flowers bloom in gay abandon. The rains arrive and spoil the party, but are heralded as the signal of the new planting season. Prolonged periods of wet weather and cold temperatures are often a feature of October weather. Plants grow rapidly and weeds do too. When the sun comes out, the garden often seems to have become overgrown almost overnight! This ensures plenty of work at this time.
- Remove primula malacoides plants as they come to the end of their flowering season. Shake the removed plants over the garden soil to scatter seeds for next seasons show.
- Plant up pots and window boxes with new summer flowering plants. Big begonias, Angelonias and Sunpatiens are absolute winners for a summer display.
- Sow sunflower seeds and other summer and autumn flowers – nasturtiums, marigolds, Californian poppies, marigolds and zinnias.
- Impatiens or busy lizzies and begonias are amongst the most popular summer flowers for shaded areas.
- Plant zinnia and portulaca seedlings for a summer show. They beat the heat and humidity that lies ahead.
- Apply a dressing of fertiliser to potatoes.
- Sow root vegetables like carrots and turnips.
- Plant further batches of summer vegetable seedlings. Especially peppers, chillies, tomatoes and egg plants.
- For the braver folk, start planting a chilli plant collection. There are so many different types available today.
- Sow more beans, maize, sweetcorn, baby marrow and pumpkin seeds.
- Control weed growth. A mulch of straw helps to do this.
- Check for cut worms damaging young seedlings. Apply bait if necessary.
- Check for mildew on the leaves of marrows and pumpkins and treat wit a suitable fungicide.
- Stake young runner bean plants.
- Most herbs grow rapidly now and need to be pruned regularly to keep them in check.
- Continue sowing summer herb seed like coriander, sweet basil and rocket.
- Replace plants that come to the end of their productive life. Rosemary and thyme get and old and woody and are best replaced with fresh stock on a regular basis.
- Plant a bay leaf (Laurus nobilis) if you don’t already have. They last for many years, eventually growing into large trees. Keep them in a pot to prevent this.
- Plant pomegranates and other deciduous fruits like grapevines.
- Harvest strawberries.
- Early peaches ripen in October and need to be harvested.
- Heavy crops of peaches, plums, apricots and nectarines may need to be thinned out to ensure fruit quality.
- Clip back spent azalea bushes to remove dead flowers.
- Continue pruning back spring flowering shrubs like weigela, deutzia, philadelphus and forsythia as they finish flowering.
- Dead head spent flowering bulbs.
- Plant out new perennials into herbaceous borders. Alstroemerias or Inca lilies are in season now.
- Select new blossom trees (crab apples and flowering cherries) whilst in bloom at the nursery.
- Prune back spring flowering jasmine severely to prevent it from becoming too rampant.
- Split and repot cymbidium orchids.
- Colourful filler plants for pots and gardens – coleus, begonias, Sunpatiens, gaura, fuchsias, euphorbias.
- Roses are at their prime this month and should provide and abundance of blooms.
- Fertilise as per normal with the regular monthly application of 8:1:5 or 5:1:5 rose fertiliser.
- Water deeply and regularly, as often as 3 times per week if rainfall is scarce.
- Spray with insecticide, fungicide and miticide every two weeks or after each rainy period to prevent fungal infection and control insects and mites.
- Increase the frequency of mowing.
- Lower the level of the mower blades. The golden rule is never cut off more than one third of the length of the grass leaf blade with any one cut.
- Fertilise monthly with a lawn feed high in nitrogen. 7:1:3 is a popular choice.
- Turn compost heaps. Remove and sieve any material that has decomposed sufficiently to be used in the garden.
- Make sure that all drains and gutters are clear and ready for the rainy season.
- As rainfall increases, so too does weed growth. Focus on weed control from now onwards.
- Spray weeds on driveways and in paving on a dry, sunny day with no wind.
- Check the entire garden for pests and diseases. They become more prevalent as temperatures increase. React immediately any problem is identified.
- Continue applying snail and slug bait to parts of the garden with soft young new growth.
It's a smile, it's a kiss, it's a sip of wine......it's summertime!